by Jacklin Bolduan
Community Change-Maker award winner M Adams of Freedom Inc. speaks to a crowd of 200 at Thursday’s event. Photo by Jacklin Bolduan.
On Thursday September 10, Community Shares of Wisconsin held their annual Community Change-Maker Awards Event at Union South. The event aims to honor individuals who have gone above and beyond in their dedication to serving the community. Winners are nominated by Community Shares’ over 60 Member Nonprofits, all of which have a seat on the organization’s board.
This year’s Community Change-Makers are M Adams, Co-Director of Freedom Inc, Cora White, Director of Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, and Melanie Ramey, Past Board President of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.
M Adams, in addition to her work for Freedom Inc., is also a Co-Founder of the Young, Gifted, and Black Coalition. She has contributed to anti-oppression work internationally, serving as a part of the first delegation to the White House for the LGBT Leaders of Color Summit and as a U.S. Delegate to the UN’s 2014 Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Adams dedicated the award to her mother, who she said gives her the fuel to keep fighting. She ended her acceptance speech with a powerful audience call-and-response of an Assata Shakur quote, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Cora White is the founder of the Foster Care Children and Family Fund and has fostered nearly 300 children herself over 30 years. She became the first African American and the first woman President of the National Foster Parent Association and has worked with foreign governments like Japan and Poland, advising them on how to find alternatives to institutionalizing children. White also established funds to build a home for 50 caretakers and orphans in Southern India, where she also helped to open pharmacies and dental and medical clinics.
In addition to her role with LWVWI, Melanie Ramey serves as CEO of HOPE of Wisconsin, a membership organization for all hospice and palliative care programs, which provides advocacy for end-of-life care. Ramey has been working towards justice in voting rights since she was a college student in the 1960s, when she was arrested on Freedom Rides fighting against voter intimidation. More recently, she spearheaded a lawsuit against the state when Scott Walker passed the Voter ID law in 2011. Ramey used her time at the microphone to call the audience to action in helping people register to vote. She said, “I think everybody can be a change-maker, they just don’t know what to do.”
In addition to the Change-Maker awards, Community Shares also honors community volunteers each month through their Backyard Hero Awards, who were also recognized at Thursday’s event.
You can learn more about Community Shares of Wisconsin by visiting their website at www.communityshares.com.